Anti-government protesters shout in front of the Sale courthouse, Morocco as one holds a portrait of Moroccan editor Ali Anouzla. (Abdeljalil Bounhar, AP)
Rabat – Moroccan journalist Ali Anouzla is to stand trial next month over comments about the Western Sahara that he made to the German press, he said on Sunday.
The head of the Lakome2 website faces charges of “undermining national territorial integrity” at a trial due to begin on February 9, he told AFP.
The prosecution service opened an investigation after he mentioned the Western Sahara as one of three red lines for Moroccan journalists in an interview published last month in the German newspaper Bild, he said.
Bild reported that he listed these limits as “the monarchy, Islam and the occupied Western Sahara.”
Anouzla, who faces up to five years in jail if convicted, said he never called the Western Sahara “occupied” and called the translation “inexact”.
Morocco claims sovereignty over the mineral-rich territory, but the Algeria-backed Polisario Front has been campaigning for its independence since 1973.
UN efforts to organise a referendum on the territory’s future have been resisted by Rabat.
The charges against Anouzla come as he faces others of defending and inciting “terrorism” in another case.
Anouzla was arrested in September 2013 after publishing a link on his website to an al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb video on Morocco.
This February, HuffPost Black Voices is honoring black men and women who are paving the way to a better future for black America. As part of our “Black Future Month” series, we will highlight the work of deserving individuals who are striving to make the world a more inclusive place for generations to come.
To kick off our series, we’re honoring eight black men and women in mediawho constantly use their voices, across various platforms, to help unify and uplift others. We hope you admire their activism and participate in the conversation online: #BlackFutureMonth.
1. Franchesca Ramsey | Comedian and video blogger
Franchesca Ramsey is one of the most recognized black voices in media. As the host of the MTV web series “Decoded,” Ramsey displays her smarts and humor as she tackles various topics about race and culture. “My ultimate goal is to make people laugh and make them think, which isn’t always an easy task. I like to think my work is furthering black culture by educating and empowering black people,” she told The Huffington Post.
Ramsey says it’s critical we understand the power of our voices, that’s why she uses her platform to talk about the importance of intersectionality. “Black people come in so many different bodies, genders and sexualities, so it’s important that we’re conscious of that so we can fight for a world that embraces and uplifts black people of every kind,” she said. “Our voices are powerful and have the ability to make change.”
2. Marc Lamont Hill | Academic, author and activist
Marc Lamont Hill’s spot-on commentary, powerful political punditry and insightful speeches makes him one of the most important voices of our generation. The scholar, professor and former HuffPost Live host consistently speaks power to the beautiful complexities of what it means to be black, which he defines in profound ways: “Being black means being part of a tradition that has built, fed, healed and inspired the world,” he told The HuffPost. “Being black is my pride.”
Hill says his fearlessness in speaking out against white supremacy and the nation’s neglect for black lives has been molded by the influential work of many black leaders — but it is men like Malcolm X who inspire him most. “He brought me to God. He taught me that books could change, and save, my life. He modeled discipline like I’d never seen before,” he said. Hill’s unflinching commitment to making sure black lives matter is a mission he upholds every day — and he says that if we are to achieve a better future, the movement must go on. “We must continue to organize,” he said. “We must continue to stretch our radical imaginations in ways that embolden us to resist the divisive forces of late capitalism, homophobia, patriarchy, ableism, and much more. I believe that we will win.”
3. Morgan DeBaun | Founder of Blavity
Morgan DeBaun is the main mastermind behind Blavity, a booming news and culture website catered to black millennials. Since the site’s launch in July 2014, DeBaun and co-founder Aaron Samuels have realized their vision to provide a space where thought-provoking, comedic and insightful content merge seamlessly. “I think Blavity amplifies the good work, things and ideas that already exist in communities of color but oftentimes don’t get uplifted,” she told HuffPost.
DeBaun is inspired by the work of iconic black women of the past like Sojourner Truth, who she says was “fierce and so empowered to speak for herself and others to do the right thing in society.” It’s a mission DeBaun upholds through building great platforms like Blavity, which reflects the work of some of the most influential and important black voices around. “If we continue to share stories, news and ideas that are uplifting and engage one another,” DeBaun said, “I think we will continue to make progress towards a strong community.”
4. Wesley Lowery | Reporter at The Washington Post
Wesley Lowery is known as one of the most diligent black professionals in media. As a political reporter at The Washington Post, Lowery has tirelessly covered issues of racial injustice, police violence and housing issues in America, among other topics. His riveting and detailed reporting explores these areas through “humanizing black characters and contextualizing the black experience for a mainstream (and largely white) audience,” he told HuffPost via email.
Lowery’s stellar coverage in Ferguson and respected commentary on social mediahas helped to establish him as one of the most credible reporters around — and he effectively uses tools like Twitter and TV to tell an important part of the black narrative. Understanding their power, he encourages more black people to leverage these platforms to do the same. “For much of American history, black voices were unheard, and therefore essentially voiceless,” he said. “We achieve a better future by refusing to be muted.”
5. Issa Rae | Actress, writer and producer
Issa Rae is an awkward — and talented — black woman who is well on her way to changing the landscape of television. As the creator of the hit web series “Awkard Black Girl” and the founder of Color Creative TV, a platform that showcases the work of minority writers, Rae is helping to highlight stories that expand the narratives around black men and women. “I’m in this awkward definition of blackness,” she previously told HuffPost. “Black is supposed to be cool, black is sassy, black is trendsetting. I just don’t feel that way. It’s almost limited in a way and I feel like black is so much more than that.”
Black is so much more, and Rae isn’t the only one who recognizes that; so do the countless fans that admire and contribute to the platform Rae has built. Collectively, they are telling stories that are redefining blackness — and during a time where the work of people of color often goes unnoticed and undervalued by white Hollywood executives, Rae says now is the time to speak up. She previously told us: “Until you have people in positions of power that have varied experiences, nothing will change.”
6. Kyle Banks, André Verdun Jones and Khary Septh | Founders of The Tenth Zine magazine
Kyle Banks, André Verdun Jones and Khary Septh are Brooklyn-based artists who came together to create The Tenth, a groundbreaking magazine that explores the experiences of being black and gay. The biannual publication, which is filled with glamorous images, amazing art and powerful written pieces, shatters stereotypes around black gay youth and brings dimension to the experiences and battles they face. “A huge issue for us is the black church and the hateful abomination doctrine being spewed from pulpits all across this country. We stand as a line of defense for so many LGBT youth that lack the proper defense against such rhetoric,” Banks told HuffPost. “As we continue to build our platform, this is just one of theissues we intend to tackle head-on.”
Banks said the team gives praise to men like Bayard Rustin, a civil rights icon who “also lived as an openly gay black man during a time when hostility toward both were off the charts,” Banks said. “Baynard Rustin, for us, represents a life lived with integrity and unyielding selflessness.” Through taking ownership of their own narrative, Banks and his team are well on their way to creating revolutionary work. “We believe in W.E.B. Du Bois’ philosophy that ‘earnest hard work, political activism and racial community should be the hallmarks of the black community,'” Banks said. “We also believe in Malcolm’s ‘By any means necessary.’ Ideas for a brighter future are nothing new, you see.”
Moroccans who have spent all their working lives in France and the Netherlands are now facing discrimination against their pensions in what has been criticised as a form of ‘retirement apartheid’.
Retired French and Italians can live anywhere in Europe without it affecting their domestic pension entitlements; but North Africans who have lived and worked in France for more than 40 years are denied the same rights.
I live alone in a narrow room, like a prison. My life here in France is more like hell, in every sense of the word.
Omar Ait Sghir, Moroccan pensioner in Paris
Instead they face a stark choice: return to their home countries and lose large slices of their pension and face medical bills they can’t afford; or remain in, say, France with their full pensions but away from their families.
“I’m sick,” says 75-year-old Mohamed Air Wakrim who has lived in France for 45 years. “If I stay in Morocco for more than six months, they’ll find out and take away my rights.”
Contrast this with the treatment of Europeans and you have what some people have called “retirement apartheid”.
“In Tunisia, I only have to pay four or five percent tax,” says Mauro Sansovini, an Italian pensioner. “In Italy, the tax rate on my pension income is between 40 and 45 percent.”
Salim Fkire, the president of CAP SUD MRE, a campaign group of Moroccans residing abroad, sums up the situation: “Mohamed and Patrick both worked in the same factory, got the same pension and paid the same taxes. Today, Patrick has the right to live permanently in Agadir… But Mohamed can’t stay in his home town for more than six months. After that he’ll have to return to France or else he’ll lose his social rights.”
There are also problems for North Africans in the Netherlands. The Dutch government tried to cut benefits to retired Moroccans by 40 percent but was forced to backtrack. So instead they introduced checks on property and began spying on Moroccans and their assets in Morocco through their embassy in Rabat, so they could deduct tax from Moroccan pensioners living in Holland.
This has led to open protests highlighting the plight of the North Africans, who have become known as ‘The Chibanis’, Moroccan Arabic dialect for ‘older people’.
In The Retirement Trap, we look at the struggle of Moroccans to redress pension injustice and escape the retirement trap they find themselves in.
France has deployed hundreds of troops in northern Niger to create a buffer against jihadist advances from Libya. Credit: Carlotta Gall/The New York Times
By CARLOTTA GALL JAN. 1, 2016
SAHARA DESERT, Niger — A group of light armored vehicles skated over the moonscape of the Sahara, part of one of the largest detachments the French military has deployed here since colonial times. Its mission is growing ever more urgent: to cut smuggling routes used by jihadists who have turned this inhospitable terrain into a sprawling security challenge for African and international forces alike.
Many of the extremist groups are affiliates of Al Qaeda, which has had roots in North Africa since the 1990s. With the recent introduction of Islamic State franchises, the jihadist push has been marked by increasing, sometimes heated, competition.
But, analysts and military officials say, there is also deepening collaboration among groups using modern communications and a sophisticated system of roving trainers to share military tactics, media strategies and ways of transferring money.
Their threat has grown as Libya — with its ungoverned spaces, oil, ports, and proximity to Europe and the Middle East — becomes a budding hub of operations for both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State to reach deeper into Africa.
And as Africa’s jihadists come under the wing of distant and more powerful patrons, officials fear that they are extending their reach and stitching together their ambitions, turning once-local actors into pan-national threats.
The Nov. 20 assault on the Radisson Blu hotel that killed at least 19 people in Bamako, Mali’s capital, was just one of the more spectacular recent examples of the ability of these groups to sow deadly mayhem. Across the region, hundreds of people have been killed in terrorist attacks in the past year.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who heads the United States Africa Command, warned in a congressional statement in March of an “increasingly cohesive network of Al Qaeda affiliates and adherents” that “continues to exploit Africa’s undergoverned regions and porous borders to train and conduct attacks.”
“Terrorists with allegiances to multiple groups are expanding their collaboration in recruitment, financing, training and operations, both within Africa and transregionally,” General Rodriguez warned months before the Mali attack.
Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State and their respective affiliates, along with other jihadist groups, were active across large parts of North Africa in 2015. The map shows incidents of political violence, which include battles for territory, attacks on civilians and riots or protests.
The transfer of expertise can be witnessed in the spread of suicide bombings in Libya, Tunisia and Chad and in the growing use of improvised explosive devices in Mali, analysts and officials pointed out.
Such exchanges have been enhanced as groups shift shape, sometimes merge, and come under the wing of more powerful and distant patrons.
In one instance, two of the longest-standing North African groups, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Mourabitoun, after a long publicized split, announced that they had reunited and that the Bamako hotel attack was their first joint venture.
The leaders of the two groups — Abdelmalek Droukdel and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, both Algerians — have loyalties that reach far beyond Africa, however.
As does Seifallah Ben Hassine, leader of Ansar al-Shariah in Tunisia, the organization believed to be behind three deadly attacks in Tunisia last year, including a massacre of 38 people at a beach resort in June and an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March that left 22 dead.
All three men are veterans of fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and now profess loyalty to Al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, based in Pakistan.
Mr. Droukdel, routed by French forces in Mali in 2013, is reportedly holed up in the mountains in southern Algeria. Mr. Belmokhtar and Mr. Ben Hassine have made rear bases in Libya, where they have been targeted by American airstrikes.
Today, despite French and American efforts to disrupt their networks, they still stretch across the continent.
To keep the pressure on the jihadists and help resist the threat, France has installed 3,500 troops across 10 bases and outposts in five vulnerable countries — Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. The recent French patrol, tiny dots in the Sahara’s expanse of dunes and blackened rock, included 30-ton supply trucks carrying food and fuel, armored vehicles mounted with 80-millimeter cannons and a medical truck.
Similarly, American Special Operations Forces are working in Niger, and last year President Obama ordered 300 United States troops to Cameroon to help defend against the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram, which has spread across borders.
French troops have led repeated operations to break communication and supply lines from Libya that have fortified such groups. The November operation was part of coordinated maneuvers in eastern Mali and northern Niger to try to disrupt jihadist links between the two nations.
The smuggling route patrolled by the French is one of the main arteries for jihadists, arms and drugs. French troops call it the “autoroute” to southern Libya, which they describe as a “big supermarket” for weapons.
The route crosses one of the most remote places on earth. Devoid of human habitation or water for hundreds of miles, it is a treacherous terrain of unbearable heat in the summer and nearly impossible navigation. Yet small convoys of smugglers attempt the crossing several times a week.
For the French, it is like looking for a tiny craft in an ocean, said Lt. Col. Étienne du Peyroux, the commanding officer leading the Niger operation.
“It is like a naval battle,” he said, sketching out the hunt on maps on the hood of his desert jeep. “The zone of operations is 40,000 square kilometers, an area the size of Holland, for 300 men.”
“We try to find them, to block, to constrain, to work out how they will be channeled by a particular piece of terrain,” he said.
The French rarely catch anyone — the last capture was of a drug haul in June. But, they say, their operations are at least disrupting the jihadists’ movements, evidenced by a drop in traffic and tracks in the sand showing smugglers’ vehicles having turned back.
“We want them to abandon the fight, until they cannot do it anymore or until the effort is too great,” the colonel said.
That, however, seems unlikely. “Weak government and chaos are always conducive to terrorism,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, coordinator of a United Nations Security Council committee that monitors the Qaeda sanctions list. “These groups do take advantage of that.”
The development of jihadist training camps in Libya over the past four years represents a regional and international threat, with particular significance for Africa, he warned in a recent report.
Especially worrying, he said, was “the growing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters and the presence of a globalized group of terrorists from different Al Qaeda backgrounds.”
North Africa and the Sahel — a vast area the breadth of the United States — with its difficult geography, impoverished populations and weak states, is acutely vulnerable, military and civilian analysts said.
Poverty, corruption, poor government and unfair elections are all making populations susceptible to Islamist propaganda, said Adam Thiam, a columnist for the Malian daily newspaper Le Républicain.
“Elections are corrupt; services are corrupt,” he said, and young people have lost confidence in government, “so they will go and listen to the religious leaders rather than the political leaders.”
Others blame foreign interventions in Libya and Mali, and repressive counterrevolutions like Egypt’s, for fueling support for the jihadists.
Certainly, despite the interventions and improved security efforts, new groups and recruits continue to appear. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates remain active in Mali, and they have sponsored a new group, the Massina Liberation Front, which has emerged in the past few months.
“They do not need much; they just need to be determined,” said Col. Louis Pena, a commander of French troops in N’Djamena, Chad.
The deepening reach of Al Qaeda and the arrival of the Islamic State are raising fresh alarm.
While the two groups are rivals, that competition can pose a significant challenge from a broader security standpoint — as extremists seek to prove their potency and relevance, inspire and attract recruits, and play on a bigger stage.
The effect can be witnessed prominently in Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria, which has killed 17,000 people and displaced more than a million.
Boko Haram has been around for two decades. But money and training from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb gave its leader, Abubakar Shekau, a substantial boost when he assumed control in 2010.
Last year, Boko Haram switched allegiance to the Islamic State, which claimed its West Africa division had killed more than 1,000 people since November, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites.
Despite setbacks in Nigeria, Boko Haram has become a regional scourge by exploiting contacts in the wider jihadist network, and it has now spilled into Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
At Madama, an oasis about 50 miles south of Libya, a mud-brick fort built by the French in 1931 guards Niger’s northern desert approaches.
In the past two years, the French have built a sprawling base dwarfing the old fort still manned by Nigerian troops, and posted 300 French troops to create a buffer against jihadist advances from Libya.
Nigerian soldiers accompany the French on their missions, hurtling in battered pickups across the desert terrain, much like their jihadist opponents do. Many of the local soldiers have been through six-month training programs run by American forces. Farther east, Chadian troops guard their part of the border.
In this lonely spot, French soldiers watch from their guard post out across the empty sand toward Libya. French commanders agree that the root of the problem is there, and that until it is addressed the entire region is threatened.
“They are still fragile countries,” Colonel Pena said. “They are countries that need stability to grow and develop. That is the real danger.”
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Voice of America (VOA)
By James Butty | December 14, 2015 12:45 AM
The Burundian government is seeking the extradition from Rwanda of four Burundian journalists working for several private media institutions, including Radio Isanganiro and Radio-TV Renaissance.
Also wanted is Patrick Nduwimana, director of Bonesha FM Radio. The request was reportedly made by the Burundian prosecutor general in a letter to the Rwandan Minister of Justice.
The Burundian government launched a crackdown on independent media after the May 13 failed coup attempt, accusing them of supporting the protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term. Critics said he was violating the constitution’s two-term limit as well as an agreement that ended Burundi’s 12-year civil war.
President Nkurunziza eventually did run for and win a third five year term in office after a constitutional court ruled in his favor. However, unrest and violent confrontations have continued.
Patrick Nduwimana said the independent Burundian media has never taken sides in the Burundian crisis.
“They (the government) claimed that we have been involved or we are linked to the coup that took place in May, but all this is just nonsense. If we have put on air in our media the statement of the general who proclaimed the coup against Nkurunziza, this does not mean that we were linked to the plan of the coup. We did it as journalists; this is our job; that was a fact; that was the event which happened that time and we just broadcast the statement. So this cannot be the reason or justification for the government hunt and even want to kill journalists,” he said.
Nduwimana said the journalists fled to Rwanda because their safety was not guaranteed in Burundi, and the Rwandan government granted them and thousands of other Burundians asylum in line with international humanitarian law. As such, he said Burundian authorities have no right to ask for their extradition.
Also Sunday, the U.S. government urged its citizens to leave Burundi amid deadly clashes involving the military and police. More than 80 people were killed Friday when armed attackers raided army facilities in the capital Bujumbura.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said this past weekend that “high-level political dialogue” needs to begin immediately between the government and the opposition to try and defuse the situation or else things could “devolve into mass violence.”
The U.S. State Department said it has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. officials and the families of personnel.
Nduwimana said the Nkurunziza government should be charged with crimes against humanity.
“There were allegations or reports that an armed group which attacked three military sites or bases in the capital, Bujumbura. After that, police and government militia and some soldiers went into neighborhoods killing young people who were not armed. They rounded them up and shot them. They were not involved in the attack. I think the Burundi of today is guilty of crimes against humanity,” he said.
Nduwimana said the international community should do more to further isolate the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza. He said the United Nations Security Council should stop issuing resolutions that are not backed by action.